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James’* brother died unexpectedly when he was just 15. 

Dennis* has grown up with an alcoholic mother and a father who works two jobs and still struggles to pay the bills on time. 

Unfortunately, stories like these are all too common among students.  Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), defined by the Centers for Disease Control as “potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years),” are very common. 

According to the Texas Education Agency, you can take any class of 2024 students and find that:

  • Approximately four students struggle with mental health issues that impair them in some way.
  • 12 of the student have been exposed to at least one traumatic event.
  • 2 or 3 of the students have been exposed to three or more traumatic events.

Traumatic experiences impact students in classrooms as ACEs can impact health and long-term outcomes for children. “Toxic stress from ACEs can change brain development and affect such things as attention, decision-making, learning, and response to stress” (CDC). 

While these statistics can be shocking and heartbreaking, the good news is that kids can develop resilience and coping skills. A strong relationship with a caring adult is the number one supportive factor influencing kids to develop the resilience needed to overcome childhood adversity. 

For so many kids relationships are the intervention, so how do we purposefully cultivate those relationships with supportive adults for our students?

The Search Institute describes five areas in their “developmental relationships framework” that have an impact on relationships with young people: Expressing Care, Challenging Growth, Providing Support, Sharing Power, and Expanding Possibilities. 

These all sound great in theory, but how do you actually do them? The students in the GPS Ed program have multiple adults in their corner. Each has an instructor and work-based learning coordinator they see every day in class, and they also have supportive adults at their youth apprenticeship placements that help them succeed. 

GPS Ed collaborates with our business partners to make sure they know what students will need, and how they can challenge students to grow. 

Drawing from the insights shared, it’s evident that the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) underscores the urgent need for supportive environments in education. At GPS Ed, we understand the profound impact of nurturing relationships between students and caring adults. These relationships serve as the cornerstone for fostering resilience and helping students overcome adversity.

Through the collaborative efforts of our dedicated instructors, work-based learning coordinators, and supportive business partners, we create an ecosystem where students can thrive academically, emotionally, and professionally.

We invite you to explore further how our Education Center and Youth Apprenticeship Program prioritize the well-being and success of every student. To delve deeper into the importance of holistic student development, we encourage you to read our previous blog post, “Going Beyond Technical Skills for Students.”

Together, let’s empower the next generation to overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential!

Written By


Katie Bohlin
Dean of Students
kbohlin@gpsed.org
GPS Education Partners

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